MS Office Live Brings Small Business Computing Online

By Helen Bradley | Posted June 21, 2010

 Microsoft Office Live workspaces; small business software
Office Live lets you create customized workspaces with all the tools you need for completing common tasks.
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After years of focusing on Microsoft Office as a desktop application, Microsoft has finally developed Web-based Office applications. One of these is called Microsoft Office Live Workspaces, and it gives you access to online tools for viewing your Office documents.

Combine this with SkyDrive.com where cut-down versions of Microsoft Office applications are available and you have some smart software for small business available on the Web. These tools let you work both collaboratively with others and from anywhere. In this article I'll show you how to get started with Office Live Workspaces and SkyDrive.

Office Live Web Tools for SMBs

You can find Office Live at www.workspace.office.live.com. Select the Get Started Free button to sign up. You'll need a Windows Live account to do this and if you don't have one you'll be signed up for one in the process. If you do have a Windows Live ID enter your email address and password to sign in.

Office Live Workspace gives you a place to store your files online so click Create a Workspace Now to get started with a new workspace. You have a number of workspace choices -- a blank workspace is empty and the others each come with a set of documents to get you started with tasks such as completing a project or organizing a meeting.

When you choose the desired option, Office Live creates a workspace for you. If you choose to create an Event workspace for example, it has documents which include a flyer, directions, an agenda, a list of invitees, notes and to do list. You can upload documents that you have already created by clicking Add Documents Now. If you don't have any documents, you can proceed to the next step to share the workspace with other authors.

 Microsoft Office Live workspaces; small business software
One of the big advantages of using SkyDrive and Office Live Workspaces is being able to share files with other people.
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Big Business Features in Small Business Technology

In Office Live Workspaces you can share your workspace and allow other people access to it. You can add editors -- people who can view and edit documents -- and you can add viewers -- people who can view but not edit documents. When you click to share a workspace you'll be prompted to type the email addresses of editors and/ or viewers who will then be sent an invitation with a link to access the shared space.

The Office Live Workspaces window, lists your workspaces in the top-left corner of the screen. A special workspace called Documents represents your default and starting workspace. It's an unusual workspace in that it is the only workspace where you can store and share individual documents with people. In other workspaces, when you opt to share something with others, you have to share everything or nothing in that workspace.

You create new documents by selecting a workspace or your Documents workspace and choosing New. You can select to create a new Word document, Excel spreadsheet or PowerPoint presentation -- to do this you need to have Excel, Word or PowerPoint installed on your computer, as each of these options open the relevant application on your local computer.

After you create the document, you can save it to your workspace. In Word 2010 you'll use File > Save & Send > Save to Web and then sign in with your Windows Live ID. In Office 2003 or Office 2007 you can download and install the Office Live add-in. This lets you save directly from the various applications using the icons on the Microsoft Office Live Add-in toolbar, which will appear in your Office programs.

When you choose to save your file, you will be prompted to enter your Windows Live ID and password and choose the Workspace to save your file to. Once the toolbar is installed you can save any document you open or create to your workspace.

Other documents such as notes, lists, task lists, contact list

 Microsoft SkyDrive; small business software
Microsoft recently rolled out SkyDrive with free, cut-down versions of Excel, PowerPoint, Word and OneNote available online.
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s and event lists can be created inside Microsoft Office Live Workspace using the online tools and they do not require you to own Microsoft Office.

SkyDrive: Office Online

Over the last few months, Microsoft launched SkyDrive, which provides very different features to Office Live Workspace. When you sign up for a free SkyDrive account, you get 25GB of online storage, plus you get access to Microsoft Office applications online where you can view and edit Office documents in your browser.

You can create Excel workbooks, PowerPoint presentations, Word documents and OneNote notebooks online using cut-down versions of those applications. Using Office Live Workspace and SkyDrive means that you can store files remotely and access those files at any time using a Web browser and by logging in with your Windows Live ID.

You can share files and collaborate on projects with other people even if they are not on your office network. If your business is not big enough to justify the expense of running SharePoint, then Office Live and SkyDrive make a great small-business alternative. They provide similar functionality, they're simple to set up, and -- best of all -- they're free.


You'll find lots more software tips and tutorials from Helen Bradley in our Small Business In-Depth series, How-To With Helen Bradley.

Helen Bradley is a respected international journalist writing regularly for small business and computer publications in the USA, Canada, South Africa, UK and Australia. You can learn more about her at her Web site, HelenBradley.com

Do you have a comment or question about this article or other small business topics in general? Speak out in the SmallBusinessComputing.com Forums. Join the discussion today!


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